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Weidner Center revitalization takes key steps forward at UW-Green Bay

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The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is taking the next steps in its plan to revitalize the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, presenting elements of a draft proposal to key stakeholder groups Thursday, Dec. 1 and Friday, Dec. 2.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Thomas K. Harden will host a series of meetings about the strategic plan with consultant Steve Carignan, director of the Bluedorn Center at the University of Northern Iowa, to gain additional feedback about the direction of UW-Green Bay’s signature performing arts center. The meetings will build on ideas and feedback offered during a series of focus groups held earlier in the semester.

“The Weidner Center is an outstanding facility with a great deal of potential,” Harden said. “This process will allow us to better capitalize on its strengths as a performing arts hub, while also building a sustainable business plan for continued support of this valuable campus and community resource.”

Based in part on the initial meetings with Carignan, UW-Green Bay officials established a set of priorities that include serving the University’s academic mission, using programming to engage diverse demographic groups, increasing access to the Weidner throughout greater Green Bay and re-branding the Weidner as an arts event epicenter. That includes a focus on what traditionally has been termed “mainstage” programming, as well as access and opportunities for faculty and students, various community organizations and K-12 educational programming.

“The big shows and mainstage productions remain a crucial part of what the Weidner offers for campus and community,” said Kate Green, Weidner Center Director of Programming. “But we also want to emphasize all the other ways in which this facility serves Northeastern Wisconsin. We had 115 ushered events last year, ranging from programs for school groups to University theatre and music productions and shows from big-name entertainers.”

Officials plan to release the Weidner Center’s 2012-13 lineup this spring, Green said. It will include a wide variety of offerings, including educational, community and University programming, as well as Broadway productions. With the support of area cultural and business leaders, UW-Green Bay will present a full series of performance events to celebrate the Weidner’s 20th anniversary in 2013.

In addition to programming, Weidner Center plans also include a revamped membership effort, part of a broad-based strategy to create a largely self-supporting venue. Officials will add staffing at the Weidner Center to meet ongoing needs as revitalization efforts continue.

More information about the Weidner Center is available at www.uwgb.edu/weidner.

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